A brief history of St. Patrick Church
The first Catholic families came to this area with the opening of iron nail factories. Fr. Edward Murphy, pastor of Saint Mary Church in Fall River, would cross the Taunton River and celebrate Mass in different homes. In 1872, a second Catholic parish was founded in Fall River and named Sacred Heart. Somerset was part of the parish boundaries with the pastor, Fr. Francis Quinn and his curate, Fr. Hugh Smith, coming to the town on a regular basis to administer the sacraments. By this time, the Catholic population had grown so much that it was necessary to rent a central location. The “Old Central Hall,” located at 388 Main Street was secured for this purpose.
In the spring of 1873, more change affected the Catholic community of Somerset. A third parish was established in Fall River’s north end and named in honor of Saint Joseph. Somerset was now included in the new parish’s boundaries with Fr. William Bric as pastor assisted by Fr. Edward Norbert. Almost immediately, Fr. Bric began to make plans for a church building to serve the needs of his Somerset parishioners.
As a complement to his workers, Mr. Oliver Washburn, manager of Parker Mills (later the Mt. Hope Works), gave a plot of land for this purpose. This is the site of the present Saint Patrick Church on South Street. The cornerstone of the present structure was laid on September 18, 1873, and in November of that year was dedicated in honor of Saint Patrick. The building of the church was a community effort with parishioners working at the site after a long day of work on farms and in factories of the area. This Fall will mark the 150th anniversary of continuous worship in the Saint Patrick Church building!
Saint Patrick’s continued as a mission of Saint Joseph Parish, Fall River, until 1877 when the Catholic communities of Somerset and Warren, Rhode Island, were joined and established as a new parish. Somerset was part of the Diocese of Providence at this time, hence the inclusion of Warren, RI. Fr. Edward Norbert, the curate of Saint Joseph’s, was named the first pastor and established his residence at 86 South Street in Somerset.